Sample interview questions

Select a range of questions to practise your responses for your interview. The aim is to think of ways to answer different types of questions. Do not memorise your answers.

The selection criteria and position description will provide you with an idea of what interview questions to expect. Most employers create questions that test your capacity to meet the selection criteria.

These sample interview questions are grouped into the different types of questions you might be asked.

Ice-breakers

Often an interview starts with an ice-breaker question to help develop the rapport between the interviewer and interviewee.

  • Tell me about yourself?
  • Why have you applied for this role?

Resume information

The interviewer may ask you to expand on information in your resume.

  • It says on your resume that you have experience in X. Tell us some more about that.
  • Your resume says you studied X. How will that help you in this role?

Academic background

You may be asked questions about your academic background and how it relates to the job you have applied for.

  • Tell me about your university studies. Why did you decide to study X?
  • How has your university experience prepared you for this job?
  • Is your academic performance an indication of how you will perform in this job?
  • What types of assignments have you written? How difficult were they to write? Tell me about the best assignment you ever wrote.

Awareness of the organisation

You could be asked questions about your knowledge of the organisation.

  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • What do you know about our organisation?
  • Why does this industry/job/company interest you?

Motivation and career orientation

These questions check that your career goals match the job you are applying for.

  • Why did you choose this career?
  • What would you like to be doing in five years?
  • How do you stay knowledgeable about the industry?
  • Why did you leave your last position?

Self-awareness

These questions assess your awareness of your qualities, skills or areas where you need further development.

  • Do you think you are an (innovative, determined, enthusiastic, considerate) person? Why do you think so?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?

When answering the weakness question, pick a weakness that:

  • you have corrected or learned to manage. You need to be able to describe your strategy for overcoming your weakness
  • will not impact too negatively on your ability to complete the job.

Technical or specialist

An employer may be interested in your technical knowledge and skills and ask questions around related issues.

  • What legal issues will you need to be aware of in this role?
  • What are some of the professional boundaries that you might need to negotiate?
  • What standards do you need to be aware of in this role? How do you keep your knowledge of the standards up to date?

Hypotheticals or scenarios

Hypothetical questions evaluate your problem solving skills.

  • How would you deal with an irate co-worker? What do you think would be the result?
  • How would you deal with an angry customer on the phone? Why would you take this approach?
  • What would you do if you came across a task that you had never done before?

Behavioural

Behavioural questions are the most popular of all types of interview questions. Interviewers expect you to respond with specific examples from your experiences. They are used because employers believe past behaviour is a good indication of future behaviour. 

The behaviours employers are looking for are usually based around employability skills such as teamwork, communication, problem solving, initiative, etc. These questions often start with a phrase such as, 'Tell me about a time when you …', 'Describe a situation when you …'.

Example: Can you tell me about a time when you used your initiative to improve something in the workplace?

To answer, use the STAR approach. This stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result. It is a way of structuring your answer to show what you have learned from your experiences.

STARTheorySample answer
S = situation Briefly describe the situation or scene. I was working in a large retail hardware store as a customer service assistant.
T = task Say what needed to be done to address the situation and what your role and responsibilities were. Our shift team had the worst safety record in the store and we needed to improve it.
A = action Say what you did and how you did it. Include your reasons if they are useful I volunteered to be the safety representative and used my science studies background to explain to people good safety practices and why they were important. I arranged for safety to be a regular item on the agenda of staff meetings. I worked with my team on posters, which we placed in common staff areas to raise awareness.
R = results Say what happened as a result of your action. People became more aware of safety. Compliance improved and the number of incidents dropped. Management noticed and gave us an award to acknowledge our improvement.

More behavioural question examples

  • Describe a recent work or study-related problem. Tell me about the action you took to solve the problem. What was the outcome?
  • Tell me about a situation in which you have had to adjust quickly to changes in organisational priorities. What was the impact of the change on you?
  • Describe how you documented your last project. How did you structure it? What was your involvement specifically? What was the outcome?
  • Can you describe a situation where you had to obtain co-operation from a person or group. What did you do to achieve this? What was the result?
  • Describe a team project you have been involved in. Who were the team members? What role did you take? What were the results?
  • Tell me about a time when you have had the opportunity to lead others.
  • Tell me about a time when you weren't pleased with your performance. What did you do about it?

Significant achievements and other activities

Employers like to see evidence of other acheivements and activities. These experiences can help you gain valuable employability skills.

  • What is your proudest achievement and what skills have you gained from it?
  • Can you provide examples of personal qualities or previous experiences that would make you a success in our company?

Online resources

Resources

Graduate interviews videos.